Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Judgment Day" at Hand: US Ad Lim Eyed for Late '11 Start

As the Fall Classic ensued last week, more than a few high-hats couldn't help but ask around if they should get to finally preparing their Quinquennial Reports, almost three years late.

Supposed to be held every five years, the last ad limina visit of the Stateside bishops took place from April to December 2004. As the Americans were the last major group to be received for the mandatory Roman "check-up" in the reign of John Paul II, with the nine-month-long Brazilian visit seeing its last group make the pilgrimage earlier this month, the US is now the last major episcopal conference still to receive the "Benedict treatment" -- the reigning Pope's more hands-on style of assiduous reading of the extensive Quinquennials, accordingly pointed questions in his meetings with the individual bishops, and straight-shooting addresses to the respective groups.

The delays have been born of a combination of B16's enhanced dedication to studying up on local matters in advance of the visits, a global episcopate now numbering more than 5,000 for the first time, and the human reality of an 83 year-old pontiff's need to pace himself.

Apparently, however, the wait is over.... Well, almost -- during the Plenary, Page Three readers would've seen a quick report that reliable ops had tipped the US ad limina to begin sometime around late 2011 or early 2012... and now, Catholic News Service's Rome chief John Thavis relays that the former is, indeed, being eyed around the Vatican as the visit's launch, pointedly adding that the region-by-region series will take place squarely against the backdrop of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Either way, as the Quinquennials do take the better part of a year to assemble, above all it'd probably be wise to start in.

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On a related note, as the visit will only be the second since the eruption of the clergy sex-abuse scandals -- and the first since his 2008 PopeTrip laid out his gameplan of a "new Pentecost" for the Stateside church -- in their freshly-released interview-book, it bears relaying that Peter Seewald asked B16 whether American Catholicism had "already surmounted the crisis."

"That might be an exaggeration," the Pope replied, "but, for one thing, it is aware of its fragility and of the problems and sin that are present in it."

Likewise on the up-side, Benedict added that "there is an internal awakening to the need to overcome all these things and to live out and embody Catholic identity in new ways in our time."

Recalling his visit to New York and Washington -- highlighted especially, he said, by "magnificent liturgies" and "a joy of being Catholic in the air that was quite incredible" -- the pontiff said he thought "even non-Catholics were surprised" that his trek "was not some kind of challenge, but that it revitalized the positive energies of the faith."

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In the public portion of the 2004 US visit, John Paul II devoted each of his speeches to the nation's bishops to various aspects on the renewal of the Stateside church in the wake of the scandals -- an ecclesial reboot which, in his concept, could only begin with a fresh "witness of conversion" from the episcopate.

Lest anyone could use a review, here are links to the talks, listed in order of their delivery:
  • Region XIV -- Atlanta, Miami; 2 April
  • Region IV -- Baltimore, Washington, Military Services; 29 April
  • Region VI -- Cincinnati, Detroit; 6 May
  • Region XI -- Los Angeles, San Francisco; 14 May
  • Region X -- Oklahoma City, San Antonio; 22 May
  • Region VII -- Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee; 28 May
  • Region XIII -- Denver, Santa Fe; 4 June
  • Region XII -- Portland in Oregon, Seattle, Anchorage; 24 June
  • Region I -- Boston, Hartford; 2 September
  • Region III -- Newark, Philadelphia; 11 September
  • Region II -- New York; 8 October
  • Region IX -- Dubuque, Kansas City in Kansas, Omaha, St Louis; 26 November
  • Region V -- Louisville, Mobile, New Orleans; 4 December
  • Region VIII -- Saint Paul and Minneapolis; 10 December
PHOTO: L'Osservatore Romano(1); Pool(2) Mazur/